A roundup of Sunday editorials from Alabama’s leading newspapers:
Anniston Star – Nelle Harper Lee, 1926-2016
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
“Before I can live with other folks, I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”
“Real courage is when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”
“Sometimes the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than the whisky bottle in the hand of (another) … There are just some kind of men who — who’re so busy worrying about the next world they’ve never learned to live in this one.”
“I think there’s one kind of folks. Folks.”
Birmingham News – I can’t believe I’m actually sticking up for Donald Trump
It’s not often I can side with Donald Trump. Frankly, most of his conduct disgusts me and his proposal to deport 12 million illegal immigrants would be absurdly impossible to execute.
It’s equally unusual for me to criticize Pope Francis. As a life-long Catholic, I believe he is one of the best and most effective popes God has ever blessed us with since Jesus Himself walked this earth.
Yet, in a classic “man bites dog” scenario, the Holy Father apparently hasn’t thought through his comment this week about Trump’s proposed wall to keep illegal immigrants from crossing our southern border.
After visiting the U.S.-Mexican border, Pope Francis said this about Trump: “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not of building bridges, is not Christian. This is not the gospel.”
Decatur Daily – GOP misguided on Scalia replacement
The Issue The prevailing GOP position on the replacement of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is a reminder that opposition to President Barack Obama is blind, not reasoned. It also suggests GOP politicians are so obsessed with short-term political goals that they are making unwise strategic decisions.
In 2009, fresh off the new president’s overwhelming victory, Rush Limbaugh famously proclaimed, “I hope Obama fails.”
His comment set the tone for the seven years that have followed. A Republican Party that once prided itself on having well-reasoned theories for effective governance has in the last seven years devolved into a party that only consistently stands for one thing: opposing Obama.
This strategy of blind opposition has not been effective in strengthening the Republican Party. Obama won again in 2012. A party once known for the inspirational rhetoric and grand ideas of Ronald Reagan and even Abraham Lincoln, GOP politicians increasingly are recognized by the public as obstructionists. By defining itself as “the party of no,” the GOP has cobbled together a constituency that has little in common but for opposition to a single president.
Dothan Eagle – Location information enhances police response
A standoff between federal law enforcement officials and Apple CEO Tim Cook emerged this week after the feds asked the tech giant to develop software that would essentially create a bypass to the iPhone’s touted privacy features.
Left with a locked iPhone belonging to one of the gunmen in December’s San Bernardino terrorist shootings, the government asked the company to help breach a function that would erase all data from the device following a number of unsuccessful attempts to log in.
Cook and Apple have taken the stance that to create such software would be detrimental to the privacy and security of millions of American iPhone users, and millions more worldwide.
As technological advances emerge, there will likely be more clashes between privacy advocates and law enforcement. However, police have also benefitted from new technology in other ways that will vastly improve service to the public.
Enterprise Ledger – It’s February, but SEC jabs still connecting
The jabs never cease.
A recent phone conversation with a “friend” went as follows:
“Hey Luke. What’s up?”
“Just trying to make it home through these 162 national championship banners Alabama is now claiming.”
“Oh really, well come down for a few days and we’ll talk about it, or we can talk about Auburn football over a cup of coffee.”
My cousin is an avid LSU fan, growing up smack dab in the middle of Duck Dynasty territory.
Each fall I get under his skin with another remark about an LSU fall out. And by each year, I mean every year since most of us could pronounce “underachievement.”
But I digress.
TimesDaily – Ambitious sentencing reform was needed
The Issue In Alabama, we’re torn between the desire to be tough on crime and the reluctance to pay the price for an adequate corrections system. Sentencing reform legislation that took effect recently was an implicit recognition the state can’t afford the penalties it wants to impose.
On Jan. 30, major sentencing reform legislation took effect in the state. It was one of the most ambitious laws passed by the state Legislature in recent years, and its passage may have owed much to its complexity. The public did not understand the law well enough to oppose it. The law’s net effect, and its goal, was to ease the penalties on nonviolent crimes.
Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, shepherded the legislation through the Statehouse, and he’s taking a beating now that district attorneys and the public understand what it does.
While the Legislature may need to tweak the law, Ward should not be painted as a villain. What he accomplished was long overdue.
Gadsden Times – Socialism sounds good, but isn’t sustainable
A lot has been written about socialism with the emergence of Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., as a serious candidate for president. Socialism has a nice ring to it and many people think it simply means taking care of all the needs of the population by the federal government. But socialism by definition is the theory or system of ownership of the means of production and distribution by society rather than by individuals.
Socialism has been tried in many forms throughout the world. A present day example of socialism is the South American country of Venezuela. At one time Venezuela was a flourishing and Democratic country. Then Venezuela elected avowed socialist Cesar Chavez, who nationalized all industries of Venezuela, including a vast oil industry. Nationalization means that the government now has control over all production and distribution.
Venezuela is now in turmoil. Inflation is running over 450 percent annually. There is little food on the supermarket shelves. The black market is thriving. Socialism can survive momentarily, that is until other people’s money runs out that supports the ones who won’t work.
I lived in a country with many socialized programs, England of the United Kingdom. The English medical delivery system was totally socialized. My actual experiences with socialized medicine were revealing.
Huntsville Times – Harper Lee showed the world the true Alabama
The world lost a literary icon this week.
Nelle Harper Lee died at the age of 89 in Monroe County, Alabama, the place she immortalized as the fictional Maycomb County in her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
Lee will be remembered as a national treasure, a master of Southern style, a literary enigma and the defining voice of Alabama.
In her fictional world, Lee brought to life a cast of characters that perfectly captured the idiosyncrasies of the South. From Mrs. Hancock to Tom Robinson, Dill Harris to Robert Ewell, Lee avoided the rote caricatures that comprised the world’s impression of Alabama, offering instead a community filled with laughter, frustration, lust, hopes, fears, gossip and honor. She gave us the Finch family. She gave us Atticus.
Press-Register –Why to mourn Harper Lee, and why you don’t have to
Harper Lee is dead.
I mourn her like a friend, though we never spoke. I mourn her like I mourn the death of Atticus Finch, though he was just a character in a book.
A man of fiction. Better than truth.
I mourn Harper Lee most of all because her voice is gone. And it was a beautiful voice that made people listen. Even when they did not care to hear.
It was clear Harper Lee loved the South and her home in Alabama. It was clear when she wrote of azaleas and pecan trees and the malevolent phantom in the house down the street from Scout Finch. It was just as clear when she wrote of injustice. She cut through humanity’s most sinister impulses with the clarity of a child.
Harper Lee saw Alabama as a whole, as both beautiful and burdened. She saw what is and what should be, and she laid that all on a perfect page with humor and feeling and heart.
Montgomery Advertiser – What about cities’ rights?
Nowhere is there more hue and cry for states’ rights than in Alabama. We are constantly bombarded with complaints, whines, and lamentations over the intrusiveness of the big bad federal government. States’ rights advocates regularly grieve decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court, Congress, and the President in areas that they claim should be jurisdictionally inviolate, including education, marriage, and privacy.
And yet, those very state governments that resent federal supremacy are themselves guilty of depriving their own counties and cities of “home rule.” In response to inflation and the sinking middle class, many cities and corporations in America have increased the minimum wage payable to workers. Birmingham recently tried to do so, crafting an ordinance that would have ultimately required workers to be paid $10.10 an hour. Setting aside focus on its budget and other compelling issues such as prison reform, education, taxation, and Medicaid, the Alabama House rushed through a successful vote for a bill that prohibits cities and counties from setting a minimum wage.
Mountain Brook representative David Faulkner, the bill’s sponsor, decried (1) the discouragement to business recruitment inherent in the ordinance, and (2) its potential for creating a “patchwork” of wages throughout the state. House Speaker Mike Hubbard said “it’s just not good policy” for different cities to have different minimum wage settings. None of these reasons withstands scrutiny.
Two “introductory” realities are instructive. First – and ironically – Alabama has no legislatively mandated minimum wage for workers. It follows the mandate of the big bad federal government. Second, the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, resulting in full-time annual pay of $15,080, is slightly below the poverty line for a family of two and almost $10,000 below the poverty line for a family of four.
Opelika-Auburn News –Class D felony takes a crack at a problem not going away
Alabama faces a serious problem with its prisons.
They are overcrowded, and overcrowded prisons mean a lot of trouble. It means inmates suffer from increased proximity with other inmates in a culture that breeds a school of crime our society suffers from for years to come.
It means taxpayers must pay more to house, feed and care for those inmates.
It means washing machines and other equipment must run overtime to handle the increased burden above and beyond what they were intended to handle, and thus a quicker demise of such infrastructure.
It means any given day, should the overcrowding issues persist or grow worse, the state of Alabama and her taxpayers are subject to civil lawsuits and federal government intervention, the latter of which means someone else would be dictating to us how to handle our affairs.
Alabama faces a serious problem with its prisons, and that’s why legislators are scrambling for answers that are hard to find and not likely to be popular with their constituents because, let’s face it: Who cares about spending money on taking care of criminals?
Tuscaloosa News –Election a long way from Iowa
Donald Trump is a loser. And a sore one at that.
After Texas Sen. Ted Cruz upset the short-fingered vulgarian in the Iowa caucuses on Tuesday night, Trump gave a surprisingly gracious concession speech in which he seemed to accept defeat.
After having slept on it, however, Trump reverted to form with a barrage of tweets saying Cruz had stolen the election by spreading the unfounded rumor that Ben Carson was dropping out, and whining that the results should thus be nullified,
Cruz was indeed playing dirty on election night in Iowa, but those results are going to stand and Trump did nothing to burnish his bully image by complaining that he got robbed.
Actually, Trump finished fourth in Iowa, if you factor in the simultaneous Democratic caucus, where Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders split the 170,000-plus votes cast. That would give them about 85,000 each, easily besting the 45,000 votes Trump got as well as the 51,000 Cruz garnered.